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Residents, committee agree chemical co. property should not be reused

March 21, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Residents and members of a committee indicated Thursday that they do not want Central Chemical's contaminated 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End reused for a residential project.

People were asked to use dots of different colors to indicate their opinions of 17 potential types of reuses, with green indicating support and red indicating opposition. All of the dots on signs illustrating residential uses were red.

During the meeting, attended by about 35 people, Hagerstown Planning Director Kathleen Maher summarized the possible uses, including industrial, commercial, residential and parks uses, and how they would impact the area.

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The property off Mitchell Avenue, off North Burhans Boulevard, has been on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites since 1997.

The public meeting was the second of three by the 26-member Land Use Committee. The panel is to develop a recommendation to let the EPA and the city know what the community thinks should be done with the property.

The EPA will determine whether that use is realistic and feasible.

David Schwartz, president of Central Chemical, expressed disappointment that only about 10 people attending were not on the committee or otherwise involved in the project.

Members of the public asked the cost to clean up the land and how long it will take, but project officials said it was too soon to give those estimates.

The most popular uses indicated by the public were mini-warehouses, passive parks and active parks.

When Land Use Committee members indicated the uses they support, Maher picked light industry and City Engineer Rodney Tissue chose an office park.

Each of those uses would increase the tax base while not generating as much traffic as other possible uses, Tissue said.

Sixteen businesses identified as "potentially responsible parties" will have to pay for the cleanup of the industrial-zoned property and the EPA's work on the project, EPA spokesman Pat Gaughan said.

The city in September awarded a $67,686 contract to E2 of Charlottesville, Va., to help organize a public outreach, facilitate the committee and public meetings and provide technical review of ideas developed. Funding for the contract is from an EPA grant.

The EPA says that from the 1930s through the mid-1980s, Central Chemical blended agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, creating waste and byproducts that were allegedly disposed of in an old stone quarry on the property and in a sinkhole. Contaminants on the site include arsenic, lead, benzene, aldrin, chlordane, DDD, DDE, DDT, dieldrin and methoxychlor.

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